Making A Product Trailer

Making A Product Trailer

Posted by Javid Shamloo | Posted on September 13th, 2015 at 4:53 am

For the last few weeks I’ve been talking about how to market your app/game, reach out to the press, and put your app/game and company in a positive light.  All these articles (first one, second one, and third one) are extremely important, but they all fall flat without a very special ingredient: a trailer of your product.  Making a trailer is essential to marketing your app/game because not everyone will get to try your app or play your game before it comes out.  Sure, you can go to festivals and conferences to show off your product, you can monitor testers as they help you smooth out all the bugs in your app/game, and you can even give your app or game to journalists to try so they can review it.  I also understand that nowadays people are putting their unfinished games up as an “early access game”.  This way, people can pay for the game now, play the rough product as you patch it up, and then just get the finished game when it’s done because they’ve already paid for it.  However, not everyone will want to do this, precisely because your game is unfinished and they would prefer to play your final, polished product.  I will be discussing this new strategy as well as other “pre-game” strategies companies use to advertise their games in a later blog article.  For now though, it should be obvious that there are many people out there who are interested in your app or game, but won’t get to try or play it until it comes out.  These people need to see something other than screenshots and articles…they need to see action, movement, spectacle.  The best way to give it to them is to make a product trailer.  But how exactly do you make a good product trailer?  Let’s delve into this further.

When someone clicks play on your trailer and starts to watch, the first 5-10 seconds are the most important.  This is because the person will decide in this amount of time if your trailer, and by extension your app or game, is really worth a shit and if it isn’t, well let’s just say that might be one less customer you earn.  Therefore you need to immediately capture your audience’s attention.  You do this by promptly showing them product footage.  This is what they want to see, what they came to dissect, so give them what they’re asking for.  Try not to show your logo until the end of the trailer.  If you must show your logo in the first 5-10 seconds, for legal or other reasons, then try to integrate the logo into the app or gameplay footage.

Make your video not too short, not too long.  If it’s too short nobody will understand what the fuck they’re looking at/for.  If it’s too long then people will get bored and click away.  Now the exact criteria for too short or too long is different depending on the app/game you’re making, so I’ll leave you to figure that out, but just remember that the length of your video certainly matters.

Ok, so you’ve held the viewer’s attention for over 10 seconds, now what do you do.  Well you need to find ways to express your product’s ideas and premise to ensure that everyone understands it.  You need to do this while entertaining them as well.  Again, for many people, this trailer will be the first impression they get of your app or game, so you don’t want it to be a boring one.  The trailer should be the same level of quality as your product, so don’t cheap out.  Well, you might be thinking, how do I get people to understand my app/game?  The answer is you need to concentrate on one core concept and explain it very well.  This could be anything, the main game mechanic, the main character, the atmosphere and art direction, just something!  A lot of app and game trailers show too much and try to cram as much down the viewer’s throat as possible.  Don’t do that!  The point here is to get people hooked.  Your social media pages, website, and development blog can provide that extra information the people want.  The point of the trailer is to GET them to want that information.

Now, you don’t wanna just throw a bunch of app/gameplay footage together, slap some text over it and call it a day.  That stupid shit isn’t gonna convince anyone.  You need structure in your trailer.  It has to have a beginning, middle, and cool end, just like a movie or book.  You need to build up to some sort of climax, either with editing, choice of app/gameplay footage (showing easy stuff to crazy stuff) or something.  Just make sure you have structure!

Ok, so how exactly should you show your footage?  Well, the first thing you wanna do is SHOW USAGE!  Not the menu screens, not the Game Over screen, USAGE!  Make sure that the usage of the app you show is good!  Make it fast, exciting, and again, have it build up to a climax.  Don’t use fast cuts, but don’t use long cuts either.  Make sure each cut stays around just long enough to say what it needs to say and then move on to the next one.  Make sure to capture your footage at the best quality possible.  This means uncompressed files.  Also, capture your gameplay footage with the sound turned off.  This is because you’re gonna wanna throw some nicely edited music to match with the nicely edited gameplay footage you’re showing in your trailer.

If your app/game is an iOS or tablet app/game, you might consider shooting someone using the app or playing the game on the device itself.  This is a great option because it lets players see exactly what they’ll be doing with their mobile device when they use your app or play your game.  This will also show off how your app/game utilizes the unique hardware of the device (like the accelerometer, camera, etc.) and will let people see how the touch interface works and feels.  All this gives you a great leg up in displaying your iPhone or iPad app or game.

Two more things:

  1. DON’T USE FLASH! This is because iOS devices and browsers don’t support it.  You want everyone to see your video, regardless of what viewing device they use.
  2. Don’t be afraid to make a second, longer video if your app or game is very complex and you have a lot more to show with it.  Just make sure the points and concepts you’re trying to get across are totally different from the first video.

If you have any additional suggestions or stories that you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments section.  If you’d like to e-mail me with some additional questions you have, please feel free to do so.

Till next time my friends, take care and stay safe!

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